tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/digital-strategy Latest Digital Strategy content from Econsultancy 2016-05-23T15:09:42+01:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67863 2016-05-23T15:09:42+01:00 2016-05-23T15:09:42+01:00 Healthcare marketers making progress on measurement & metrics Patricio Robles <p>According to the <a href="http://www.shsmd.org/">Society for Healthcare Strategy and Marketing Development</a> (SHSMD), there are a number of reasons for this.</p> <p>One is that historically, executives at healthcare organizations have considered marketing to be a cost center and not a profit center.</p> <p>Another is that in healthcare, marketing has a narrower purview and marketers are disconnected from strategy and product management.</p> <p>But times are changing and SHSMD says that tightening margins are forcing healthcare marketers to prove that their efforts are paying off.</p> <p>To help healthcare organizations quantify the effects of their marketing campaigns, SHSMD, which is a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association, formed a Marketing Metrics Committee to help establish a standard framework and metrics for measuring healthcare marketers' contributions.</p> <p>SHSMD recently released a white paper, <em><a href="http://www.shsmd.org/resources/marketing/reports.shtml">Life Beyond Promotion: Core Metrics for Measuring Marketing's Financial Performance</a></em>, that details the committee's recommendations.<em><br></em></p> <p>The committee identified four areas where marketing plays a role – growth, brand and image, stakeholder engagement, and marketing communications – and sought to define where marketing has responsibility and influence.</p> <p>It then developed a list of 17 core metrics that financial executives and healthcare marketers believed were of the greatest importance and how frequently they should be evaluated.</p> <p>These metrics include Volume Change, Increased Revenue, New Patient Acquisition, Brand Awareness and Patient Satisfaction.</p> <p>Metrics related to Marketing Communications, which seek to "influence utilization and loyalty," distinguish between different types of media (paid, earned, owned, etc.).</p> <p>Not surprisingly, a poll of 34 senior healthcare marketers reveals that growth and brand metrics like Volume Change and Organizational Reputation have been widely adopted, while adoption of a number of Marketing Communications metrics, namely Owned and Paid Media, lag. </p> <p>Most worringly, just 57% of the healthcare marketers surveyed indicated Patient Satisfaction is being measured.</p> <p>This suggests that many healthcare organizations may not currently be connecting the dots between how customer perception of their services can work for or against marketing efforts that directly and indirectly influence the metrics they weigh the most.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/5066/hcmetrics-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="470" height="486"></p> <p>Also not surprising is the fact that CFOs were big on measuring marketing's contribution to growth, brand and image, but weren't as enthusiastic about measuring its contribution to stakeholder engagement and marketing communications.</p> <p>Again, this suggests that there could be a disconnect between how all of these areas relate to and impact each other.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5068/hccforating.png" alt="" width="239" height="206"></p> <p>The good news is that the SHSMD's white paper provides healthcare organizations and marketers with practical, actionable recommendations and next steps that can be used to advance the measurement conversation in a meaningful way.</p> <p>As the white paper's authors note, "marketing, like any discipline, needs a solid context within its organization" and "the absence of measurable standards is no longer acceptable."</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:ConferenceEvent/812 2016-05-20T12:16:45+01:00 2016-05-20T12:16:45+01:00 Digital Transformation and the Convergence of Marketing and Sales <p>The separation of marketing and sales is often deeply ingrained in organisations, but this is changing rapidly with the explosion of communication channels and technologies blurring the lines between the functions. </p> <p><strong>Join us for an exclusive senior leaders’ conference, focusing on the convergence of marketing and sales and its integration within wider digital transformation projects.</strong>  </p> <h3>On the agenda:</h3> <ul> <li>Find out how the path from audience to customer is changing due to the rich and varied communication channels and technologies available.</li> <li>Understand how to create and deploy content to answer customer questions all the way through the marketing and sales funnel.</li> <li>An overview on re-organising, retraining and re-incentivising a substantial part of the entire organisation without damaging the brand or missing revenue targets.</li> <li>How to track suspects, prospects and customers in sufficient detail, across multiple channels to be able to decide on next best lead nurturing action.</li> <li>The key role data and evidence-based decision-making plays in the convergence.</li> </ul> <h3>Benefit from:</h3> <ul> <li>Insight from those at the forefront of transformation.</li> <li>Understand  how best-practice processes are being established inside some of the world's leading brands.  </li> <li>Networking and discussions with your peers from two roundtable sessions.</li> </ul> <h3>Context </h3> <p>Since digital transformation has become mainstream, the marketing function has been central to driving of organisational change. But the path from audience to customer is changing and sales departments need to appraise consumer needs and configure solutions which would have been purely marketing driven. </p> <p>Many organisations are currently experiencing this race between the marketing and sales teams to occupy the middle of the sales funnel, but few understand how best to manage the convergence. Their different business culture, different objectives, their own C-level leadership, as well as different reward and remuneration systems can create a recipe for conflict rather than cooperation.</p> <p>Based on our own primary research and our key learnings from working with some of the world’s largest brands to transform their digital capabilities, we will share best practice processes which sales and marketing teams can implement to work in collaboration to drive significant commercial benefits.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67847 2016-05-18T14:49:43+01:00 2016-05-18T14:49:43+01:00 Is omni-channel retail a delusion? Patricio Robles <p>It's a question worth asking in the wake of horrible earnings reports from a number of high-profile retailers.</p> <p>While the dismal performance of retailers like Macy's, Gap, Kohl's and Nordstrom could signal a weakening economy, the situation appears more complex than that and retail executives themselves <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-13/here-s-what-top-retail-executives-are-saying-about-their-horrible-quarter">admitted</a> they don't have all the answers. </p> <p>"We're frankly scratching our heads," Karen Hoguet, Macy's CFO told investors and analysts.</p> <p>She almost certainly isn't the only one who is doing so. Despite the woes of retailers like Macy's, <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-retail-sales-in-april-grow-at-best-pace-in-more-than-a-year-1463142745">April retail sales figures were strong</a>.</p> <h3>So what gives?</h3> <p>In a nutshell: consumer behavior and the retail market are undergoing significant shifts, and this calls into question the viability of many retailers' existing omni-channel strategies.</p> <p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2016/04/28/amazons-revenue-and-profit-soar/">Amazon's business is booming</a> and it is rapidly expanding its footprint. Morgan Stanley says it's now the number two apparel retailer in the US. And it's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67769-the-rise-of-amazon-s-private-labels-shows-the-perils-of-not-owning-your-data-customers/">not</a> stopping <a href="http://arstechnica.com/business/2016/05/amazon-will-start-selling-its-own-private-label-groceries-diapers-and-more/">there</a>. </p> <p>While Amazon is growing and expanding, brick-and-mortar retailers turned omni-channel retailers aren't seeing the results they had hoped for.</p> <p>For instance, Macy's digital sales are still growing by double-digit percentages but Hoguet revealed that they still "grew less rapidly than anticipated."</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5049/Macy_s_store.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="532"></p> <p>And <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66389-what-does-the-ideal-click-and-collect-service-look-like/">click-and-collect</a>, which <a href="http://fortune.com/2016/05/12/kohls-retail-results/">still accounts for just 3% of Kohl's sales</a>, apparently isn't enough to offset declining store traffic.</p> <p>Given the widespread trends being seen across the retail industry, including <a href="http://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/retailers-swap-ideas-on-coping-with-behemoth-amazon/">growing fragmentation</a> and <a href="http://time.com/money/4304622/stores-closing-in-2016/">the rapidly rising number of store closures</a>, <strong>an argument could be made that omni-channel dreams are fast being replaced by nightmares.</strong></p> <p>Some might suggest that the industry is simply going through a rough patch and that downsizing is a painful but necessary part of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">the transformation</a> that omni-channel retailers must endure.</p> <p>But the optimistic vision laid out in 2012 by Storch, who is now CEO of Canadian retail group Hudson's Bay Company, clearly differs significantly from the reality in 2016.</p> <p>There might be merit to the omni-channel concept generally, but many of the retailers that are banking on it can no longer pretend that it's their saving grace because for most of them, it almost certainly won't be.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4129 2016-05-13T11:19:00+01:00 2016-05-13T11:19:00+01:00 Digital Transformation Trends Briefing: Digital Cream London 2016 <h2>Overview</h2> <p><strong>Digital transformation is the journey from where a company is, to where it aspires to be digitally. </strong></p> <p>A digital organisation is generally considered to be one that focuses on customer experience irrespective of channel and has a ‘digital culture’. But how do you get the right mix of skills, culture and technology in order to benefit the customer and the long-term health of your organisation?</p> <p>Econsultancy's <strong>Digital Transformation Trends</strong> Briefing, sponsored by <a href="https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/interactive-index.aspx">Accenture Interactive</a>,<strong> </strong>focuses on the key themes, opportunities and challenges relating to digital transformation as highlighted by client-side digital marketers during <a href="https://econsultancy.com/events/digital-cream-london">Digital Cream 2016</a>. </p> <p>The report aims to provide a snapshot of the areas that are top of mind for marketers, exploring how brands seek to address the challenges and opportunities in this area. </p> <h2>Key trends featured in the report</h2> <ul> <li>Defining digital transformation - are we really talking about 'customer experience transformation'?</li> <li>Objectives and strategy planning - the merits of starting small and aiming big.</li> <li>Top-down vs bottom-up, and the challenges of changing workplace culture.</li> <li>The balance between innovation and business-as-usual.</li> </ul> <h2>Digital Cream</h2> <p>An exclusive invitation-only roundtable event, Digital Cream is an opportunity for senior client-side marketers to learn from each other about the latest best practice, what’s working and what’s not.</p> <p>Digital Cream takes place around the globe throughout the year - <a href="https://econsultancy.com/events">see our upcoming events</a>.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2q_lWLm5qtg?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67843 2016-05-12T12:49:17+01:00 2016-05-12T12:49:17+01:00 VR, bots & growth hacking: Why should marketers care? David Moth <p>But thankfully our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/events/future-of-digital-marketing-london/">Future of Digital Marketing conference</a> on June 7th will cut through all the bullcrap and help put these whizzy new technologies in proper context for marketing professionals.</p> <p>Speakers from VICE Media, Atom Bank and the Reuters Institute will enlighten delegates on emerging trends in digital marketing, with inspirational case studies and perhaps a few live demos.</p> <p>Alongside those already mentioned, topics up for debate will include personalisation, mobile messaging, digital content strategy, and personalisation.</p> <p>Our own dear president, Ashley Friedlein, will be taking to the stage to give his views on why marketers need to care about bots.</p> <p>It’s a topic he’s very excited about, as you can see in this video.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nwh_g5mtnoA?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>There are even rumours he might create an ‘Ashley bot’ for a live Q&amp;A, but technical issues may well put the kaibosh on those lofty plans.</p> <h3>Virtual reality</h3> <p>You can’t attend a marketing conference these days without mention of VR, and #FODM16 is obviously no different.</p> <p>However we’ll be examining why VR is relevant and how it can work effectively within a marketing context.</p> <p>Dominic Collins from California-based VR firm Jaunt will be talking about why VR isn’t just useful for video games. You can read an interview with him <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67834-why-virtual-reality-is-the-ultimate-storytelling-tool-for-marketers/">here</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4843/Google_Cardboard.PNG" alt="" width="739" height="420"></p> <h3>#FODM16</h3> <p>The Future of Digital Marketing event takes place in London on June 7th. Go <a href="https://econsultancy.com/events/future-of-digital-marketing-london/">here</a> for further speaker and ticket information.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67838 2016-05-12T10:14:38+01:00 2016-05-12T10:14:38+01:00 Heathrow Airport's route to digital transformation David Moth <p>Heathrow welcomes 200,000 passengers per day, most of whom remain largely anonymous to the company’s own marketing team.</p> <p>So how can the airport use digital to create an enjoyable, personalised experience for people who are often in a rush?</p> <p>Chatfield gave a quick overview of the business’s strategy during a Q&amp;A at the <a href="http://summit.adobe.com/emea/">Adobe Summit</a> yesterday.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4875/heathrow_summit.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="342"></p> <p>Here’s a summary of what he said...</p> <h3>The challenge</h3> <p>Heathrow has been undergoing some major infrastructure changes in recent years, adding a whole new terminal and bidding to build a new runway.</p> <p>As part of this, the airport has been looking at new ways to deliver an improved, personalised <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/creating-superior-customer-experiences/">customer experience</a>.</p> <p>According to Chatfield, from a digital marketing angle the onus has been on assisting the business to get closer to customers.</p> <blockquote> <p>Historically we don’t know much about our customers. They’re with us for a very short amount of time, we don’t know who is coming tomorrow or even today.</p> </blockquote> <p>Heathrow’s aim is to get the brand in front of people from the moment they begin to plan their trip.</p> <p>That means getting them to look at the airport’s website, download the app, or sign up to the loyalty scheme.</p> <p>“We want to give people a great service and put them in control of their time,” said Chatfield.</p> <p>Of course, this “golden hour” that passengers spend in the airport is where Heathrow’s retail partners stand to make their money.</p> <h3>Transformation from the top</h3> <p>Heathrow is in the enviable position of having a digital transformation programme that is being driven by its board.</p> <p>Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-marketing-organisational-structures-and-resourcing-best-practice-guide/">research into Organisational Structures and Resourcing</a> found that 27% of businesses identify lack of board buy-in as a significant barrier to digital progress.</p> <p>Chatfield said that having identified digital as an area of focus, senior management asked the wider business for help and ideas on how to implement it.</p> <p><em>Heathrow's homepage</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4878/Heathrow_airport_website.png" alt="" width="800" height="446"></p> <p>The programme initially began with a working group, from which came a new role of director of service transformation.</p> <p>Service transformation is now part of the company’s KPIs, so the whole business is targeted on improving its digital capabilities.</p> <h3>Single passenger view</h3> <p>How do you get a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67741-20-of-marketers-have-created-an-actionable-single-customer-view/">single view of a customer</a> who hasn’t technically bought anything from you, and will only be on your premises for a few short hours?</p> <p>Quite the logistical challenge, made more difficult by the variety of partners that operate Heathrow’s different services.</p> <p>Chatfield explained that the business’s architecture is quite disparate, with the website, parking, Wi-Fi, etc. all operated by third-parties.</p> <p>They key to unlocking it all is by using unique visitor IDs, which can join up the data when that user does something identifiable (e.g. booking parking, logging on to Wi-Fi).</p> <p>Ultimately Heathrow wants to “propagate” this single customer view down to the frontline employees who can then offer a more personalised experience to passengers.</p> <p>From a retail perspective, the most powerful tool is the loyalty scheme which currently has around 1.5m members.</p> <p>It enables Heathrow to track where people are spending across its estate, with some of that data then shared with retail partners.</p> <p>Chatfield gave the example of a customer who might spend time shopping in luxury stores like Tiffany’s, then go and buy a sandwich from Pret.</p> <p>The two activities might seem incongruous, so it’s necessary to find data to highlight these sorts of customer journeys so Heathrow can improve the overall experience.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, check out Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-transformation/">digital transformation hub</a>.</em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4128 2016-05-10T16:58:00+01:00 2016-05-10T16:58:00+01:00 Digital Trends in the Financial Services and Insurance Sector <h2>Overview</h2> <p>The <strong>Digital Trends in the Financial Services and Insurance Sector </strong>report, produced by Econsultancy in partnership with <a title="Adobe" href="http://www.adobe.com/marketing-cloud.html">Adobe</a>, explores how digital is changing the competitive landscape of retail banking and insurance.</p> <p>The report, which is based on a global survey of more than 330 marketers, discusses the challenges and opportunities that the digital shift presents to marketers in this sector.</p> <p>Where there are interesting differences, the wider industry is compared with a subset of companies that are at the forefront of the industry. As the companies creating the change to which others are responding, this group is referred to as 'leaders'. A useful lens for comparison and inspiration, leaders display important differences from the rest of the sample, dubbed the mainstream. </p> <h2>You'll discover findings around:</h2> <ul> <li>Financial services describes itself as being in the early stages of digital maturity, and every company in the study has room to advance.</li> <li>Marketers in financial services are prioritizing digital readiness, and have already seen digital channels and content exert an increasing influence on sales.</li> <li>The sector is having to compensate for new consumer habits, and appealing to this generation of customers is overwhelmingly the top issue for the mainstream.</li> <li>Online budgets in financial services have risen steadily, and more than half are increasing their 2016 budget.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Downlad a copy of the report to learn more.</strong></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4114 2016-05-09T00:01:00+01:00 2016-05-09T00:01:00+01:00 Customer Experience Maturity in Australia and New Zealand <h2>Overview</h2> <p>The <strong>Customer Experience Maturity in Australia and New Zealand</strong> report, produced by Econsultancy in association with <a title="Epsilon" href="http://www.epsilon.com/">Epsilon</a>, explores the extent to which organisations in the region focus on the customer, how well they understand the customer journey, how customer experience (CX) budget is allocated, how return on investment is measured and what the future of CX initiatives looks like.</p> <p>The research is based on a survey of 350 marketing, digital and ecommerce professionals based in Australia and New Zealand.</p> <h2>What you'll learn from this research</h2> <p>Key trends featured in the report:</p> <ul> <li>Most companies have not reached CX maturity</li> <li>Customer experience is a team sport</li> <li>New channels and creative innovations are less important</li> <li>The complexity of the customer journey is the main barrier to CX success</li> <li>Responsibility for CX is widely shared across the organisation</li> <li>Advanced CX organisations are more likely to use a broader range of technologies</li> <li>Half of organisations understand the customer journey, half are still struggling</li> <li>Advanced CX organisations integrate customer touchpoints</li> <li>Understanding the customer journey is about driving business and helping customers</li> <li>Responsibility for CX is allocated, but budget is not</li> <li>Both qualitative and quantitative insights are used to inform understanding of the customer journey</li> <li>Advanced companies are more likely to make improvements using insights</li> <li>Return on investment is being measured in traditional ways</li> <li>Companies will use CX initiatives to differentiate themselves from competitors over the next five years</li> <li>Improving channels and understanding the customer journey</li> </ul> <h2>Features of the report</h2> <p>This 44-page report looks in detail at the struggles and successes of modern customer experience, and explores the extent to which organisations from Australia and New Zealand deliver a consistent and relevant customer experience across all touchpoints. It explores the following areas:</p> <ul> <li>Delivering a great customer experience</li> <li>Responsibility for customer experience</li> <li>Customer experience technology</li> <li>Extent to which organisations understand the customer journey</li> <li>Benefits deriving from an understanding of the customer journey</li> <li>Budgeting for understanding the customer journey</li> <li>Customer data and insight</li> <li>Measuring returns</li> </ul> <h2>Who should read this report?</h2> <p>The report is essential reading for both in-house marketers and agency professionals based in Australia and New Zealand, as well as those outside the region who want to understand what the level of customer experience maturity is in these countries.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67812 2016-05-05T12:01:00+01:00 2016-05-05T12:01:00+01:00 People & Process: Four key takeaways from Digital Cream 2016 Luke Richards <p>That said, we had some fascinating conversations which mostly centred on agile marketing and a diverse group of attendees contributed.</p> <p>Here are my top four takeaways from the day, which are covered in greater detail in my <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/reports/people-and-process-agile-working-collaborative-tools-and-cloud-based-marketing-tech/">Digital Cream 2016 Report</a>.</p> <h3><strong>1. ‘Agile’ is a relative term</strong></h3> <p>Working in an agile way is very much rooted in the software development sector.</p> <p>Developers often prefer to work in this non-linear/non-waterfall fashion so user and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64417-horror-stories-how-to-avoid-an-a-b-testing-nightmare/">A/B testing</a> is more frequent (every week rather than just before deadline, for example) and bugs are dealt with more quickly.</p> <p>In marketing, things seem a little less nailed down.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4640/Digital_Cream_2016.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/agile-marketing/">Agile marketing</a> can relate to becoming more of a ‘social business’, using more digital technologies and giving marketers or developers more authority to launch campaigns and services in a more responsive, efficient manner.</p> <p>Our discussion of agile incorporated all of the above and ultimately represents a newer way of working which is collaborative and more driven by employees and the end users of the products and services.</p> <p>This is in contrast to, for example, simply waiting on orders from managers who often are somewhat disconnected from digital culture and the needs of the consumer.</p> <h3><strong>2. Disrupt and be disrupted</strong></h3> <p>Much of the need to go agile is driven by young businesses that are disrupting the market.</p> <p>For example, in finance we see <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/01/06/atom-bank-creates-1-4-million-logos-in-bid-to-prove-customer-obsession/">Atom Bank</a> – a boundary-less, customer-led, digital bank – behaving in ways legacy banks have never dreamed of.</p> <p>But disruption can also be something which is stimulated within agile businesses.</p> <p>With investment, staff who are empowered enough to innovate and allowed to fail, learn and re-try, can develop new products, new services or new campaign ideas.</p> <h3><strong>3. Fear stifles progress</strong></h3> <p>Most barriers to adopting agile ways of working in modern businesses seem to relate to the people working within them, rather than – for instance – lack of funding and time.</p> <p>Some staff members are concerned about digital taking over and putting jobs at risk, so it is understandable that we were hearing some people are worried about being made redundant should agile work methods be adopted.</p> <p>Attendees also spoke of fear in regards to increased transparency and scrutiny which come with greater drives to ensure team members know what others are working on.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4641/Digital_Cream_2016_v2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <p>In-office stand-ups and weekly catch-ups may appeal to some staff members but not to those who are shy, anxious or admittedly not as efficient as they should be.</p> <p>Some marketers were keen to stress that middle managers were often the most reluctant to adopt more transparent ways of working.</p> <h3><strong>4. Education, education, education</strong></h3> <p>It soon emerged that the best way to overcome fear and other barriers to adopting agile work methods is to educate staff about the benefits of these progressive ways of working.</p> <p>Simple, shocking data (and that which comes from third-parties) can assist in getting buy-in from managers – especially if it relates to the bottom line.</p> <p>Staff on ‘the floor’ are often keen to learn about other parts of the business and new techniques as it can enhance their work skills, employability and life outside of work.</p> <p>Fundamentally, people need to be educated patiently, trustingly and without jargon about the benefits of agile working.</p> <p>For more information about our People and Process discussions at Digital Cream 2016, check out <a title="People and Process: Agile working, collaborative tools and cloud-based marketing tech" href="https://www.econsultancy.com/reports/people-and-process-agile-working-collaborative-tools-and-cloud-based-marketing-tech/" target="_blank">my report</a>.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67799 2016-05-03T11:46:00+01:00 2016-05-03T11:46:00+01:00 Facebook’s F8 updates mark shift from screens to experiences Prosper Williams <p>If you’re wondering, April 12th was the day Facebook announced its roadmap for the next ten years, with particular emphasis placed on immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality. </p> <h3>The shift from screens to environments </h3> <p>While many of us are still making the transition from paper to digital or PC to mobile the focus of companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft point to a future in which the lines between the physical and virtual worlds are completely blurred.</p> <p>Images and objects, in environments such as offices, cities and homes, can now be overlaid with data to create distinctly new experiences. </p> <p>On-demand platforms like Uber and devices like smartwatches have already made consumers demand more from their digital experiences, and for many, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/creating-superior-customer-experiences/">the customer experience</a> is now more important than the product itself. </p> <p>By creating almost infinite interface possibilities, immersive technologies not only allow brands to meet the challenge posed by experience-seeking customers, it gives them the power to make every interaction an opportunity to deliver something exceptional. </p> <h3>Building borderless, liquid experiences</h3> <p>As our world continues to become even more virtualized and sensor-rich, the constraints of a screen-based life will disappear, and with it, many organizations will have to re-frame how we compete at the level of experience. </p> <p>The brands that succeed in this evolved business environment will need to remove barriers right across the customer eco-system.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4484/facebook_f8.jpg" alt="" width="849" height="565"></p> <p>Not just in relation to internal hierarchy and processes, but across differing touchpoints, locations, and even industries.</p> <p>Only then can we create borderless experiences that wrap themselves around the lifestyle patterns of customers as they carry out day-to-day activities. </p> <p>This mind-set is very different to what we see in organizations today; in which we map the interactions/journeys customers have with our brands in isolation.</p> <p>In the near future, there should be no reason why I cannot  ‘tap and save’ branded content and offers directly from a mobile ad to the relevant brand in my mobile wallet, and then have that same ad served up as and when I need it. </p> <p>For example, when walking past Starbucks, I could receive offers via augmented reality, letting me know what offers were live in a particular store and whether a coupon I have saved was still valid.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4482/Starbucks_outlet.jpg" alt="" width="848" height="566"></p> <p>Without even stepping into the store, I could then complete the payment transaction via gesture, voice or touch control, walk in, collect my coffee and leave. </p> <p>Immersive, borderless technologies will make just these types of interactions possible, as they provide a digital overlay on the real world, to create completely new and integrated customer journeys.</p> <p>Notice in the above scenario it was difficult to tell which brand was driving the engagement, or which was the dominant channel.</p> <p>Was it the agency who trafficked the ad to my mobile device, was it my bank who used location awareness to remind me of the unused coupon sitting in my digital wallet, or was it Starbucks that offered me the coupon in the first place, based on past usage.</p> <h3>The rise of bots</h3> <p>To some, the above may sound like science fiction, but it is science fact.</p> <p>And Facebook’s second big announcement regarding bots for Messenger is version 1.0 of an interface that will unlock the potential of not only mixed reality, but <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/a-marketer-s-guide-to-the-internet-of-things/">the internet of things (IoT) too</a>.</p> <p>While figures vary widely, it's safe to say everyone agrees that the IoT and mixed reality will create trillions of dollars of economic value.</p> <p>But despite the hype, the lack of interoperability and a unified frictionless interface, are hindering both the IoT and immersive technologies from scaling.</p> <p>With an estimated 50bn objects connected to the internet by 2020, a world dominated by screens, text and images becomes impractical.</p> <p>If your car, home and office are all smart, intelligent and most importantly interconnected (i.e. they speak to each other), the notion you would need an app (or mobile device) to interact with each of these objects in order to carry out habitual day-to-day functions just doesn't scale.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KkOCeAtKHIc?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>Ideally, if you needed something you would just ask for it, and as computational power moves into the environments around us, I believe AI and virtual personal assistants (i.e Apple’s Siri, Microsofts Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Now) will be the most effective way to actualise this future. </p> <p>Alexa, the VPA for Amazon's Echo, already gives consumers the ability to check their bank balances, recite recent transactions, and control home appliances all using speech recognition.</p> <p>And whilst early use cases are somewhat trivial, chatbots are just the first iteration of a much bigger play by the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, as they <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67767-will-conversational-marketing-become-a-reality-in-2016/">use conversational elements to build the experiences of tomorrow</a>. </p> <h3>What can brands do now?</h3> <p>Forward-thinking brands have always known that competing successfully in today's environment has never been about devices, channels or platforms, but following the evolution of consumer behavior to the most granular of levels.</p> <p>In this sense context always has been and will be King. </p> <p>Our current obsession with mobile is well placed, but as highlighted by thought-leaders like Sergio Nouvel, it is a little more nuanced than we think.</p> <p>The focus should be on mobility first, as opposed to mobile first, as value is now transmitted by a combination of devices, and soon to be interfaces, objects and platforms. </p> <p>As we transition from a landscape dominated by screens to environments, the focus of attention must shift from inside to outside the organisation.</p> <p>Technology has made our world so fragmentary and customer journeys so interwoven, that soon it will be almost impossible for one organisation to adapt to the countless needs and niches created by our hyper contextualised, sensor-rich world. </p> <p>To thrive, organisations that once saw themselves as competitors, may need to start seeing themselves as complementors.</p> <p>Asking the following questions.</p> <ol> <li>Where can we find opportunities to partner with third parties in order to optimize the customer journey across multiple devices and locations?</li> <li>Have we observed our customers in their natural real-world setting? Do we understand how they live, what they do, how they use things or what they need in their everyday or professional lives?</li> <li>Is our use of data limited to a particular channel, or are we using offline data to optimise the online experience and online data to optimise the offline experience?</li> </ol> <p>Finding answers to the above, allows us to get closer to the customer than ever before, revealing new opportunities along the customer journey in which we can participate and add value.</p> <p>Whilst relinquishing elements of control may bring with it (perceived) added risk, advantages such as faster innovation, greater barriers to entry and ultimately newer and richer customer experiences, far outweigh any drawbacks. </p> <p>Besides are we really in control when one customer review can determine the fate of a brand? </p> <p>The main players in the tech industry are all enhancing their value proposition because they view themselves as components in an eco-system of customer experiences, as opposed to isolated entities.</p> <p>If we are to thrive in the age of environments, while finding new ways to reach and engage with customers, we will have to do the same.</p>